Double Dip of Leonard Cohen Ballet News

Marvellous and mysterious blogger DrHGuy, miner of many Leonard Cohen-faceted diamonds, today presents a post de deux on Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the recent engagement of musician Allison Crowe – performing Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with the RWB:

http://1heckofaguy.com/2012/06/16/allison-crowe-gets-the-pointe +

http://drhguy.posterous.com/ballet-with-allison-crowe

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RWB’s Leonard Cohen Ballet Success Rolls North in New Program

“Leonard Cohen’s music comes to life at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet“, CBC News reports earlier this month. After profoundly moving audiences during its world premiere run at Manitoba’s Centennial Concert Hall, this weekend “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen” rolls into Northern Manitoba for performances in: The Pas, May 25; Flin Flon, May 26; and Thompson, MB, May 27. In these communities, the Jorden Morris-choreographed “Doorway” is on a program with Peter Quanz’s “In Tandem” and Brian Macdonald’s “Pas D’Action“.

In 1959, it was Brian Macdonald’s “Les Whoops-De-Doo” that the RWB premiered in Flin Flon. And, it’s another Macdonald creation, 1970’s “The Shining People of Leonard Cohen“, which premiered in Paris, France, that marked the first time a professional theatre or dance company produced the works of Canada’s iconic songsmith on stage.

Of the “Shining People” production, cultural commentator Max Wyman notes: “That was absolutely in tune with the zeitgeist. But it was intriguing stuff as well. People loved it.” (More from Wyman, and many more people on the inspiring story of the “constant phoenix” that is the RWB can be enjoyed in the award-winning documentary “40 Years of One Night Stands: The Story of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet“.)

Of the newest ballet to the words and music of Cohen, Alison Mayes of The Winnipeg Free Press recounts: “Last year, Winnipeg’s Jorden Morris was asked to choreograph a pas de deux to Leonard Cohen’s soulful ‘Dance Me to the End of Love‘ for the nationally televised Genie Awards. It was so well received that the Royal Winnipeg Ballet commissioned Morris to create a longer work to songs by the legendary Cohen. The 44-year-old dancemaker, who teaches at the RWB School and created the company’s hits Peter Pan and Moulin Rouge” now is opening “The Doorway“.

In it, Corps de Ballet member Sophia Lee, (paired with Jaime Vargas for the Genies sensation), dances “Hallelujah” – to the voice and piano of Allison Crowe. On opening, Crowe spoke with CBC Manitoba Scene Producer Andrea Ratuski: “I feel so humbled and so grateful to be a part of this. This is such an amazing company to be able to work with and I’m just so excited. It’s so beautiful to be able to watch Sophia dance — and all the other dancers, too — all the songs. They translate so beautifully. You can kind of see the lyrics within the dance. It’s gorgeous.”

RWB’s Sophia Lee dances to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” w. Allison Crowe onstage (CBC News – screen-cap)

Feelings shared by the audience. “Spine-tingling” That’s how Holly Harris, dance reviewer for the Winnipeg Free Press, describes the ballet performance of “Hallelujah“. Dan Aysan, owner of Winnipeg’s renowned Selim’s Antiques, and RWB season ticket-holder for much of 26 years posts: “Well… the Royal Winnipeg Ballet surprised me last night. Everything I had ever wanted them to do was done! They focused on the dance and not overwhelming production… and it captivated. The lighting and sound production were fantastic… but rarely did they overshadow the dancers themselves. ‘Luminous‘ was astonishing and EXACTLY the type of work I hope the RWB considers doing more of. ‘The Doorway’ was a wild mix of dance, live music and spoken word that surprised me with it’s depth and simplicity (how often do you get dancers’ movements, Leonard Cohen’s words & music with a smattering of Peter Gzowski’s voice mashed up on stage ?!?)”

CHVN Radio’s Adrienne Daniels attended the opening, and comments: “the triumph of this performance was Mr. Cohen himself. He wasn’t there, but the RWB used audio from interviews he did regarding the songs being danced to and it gave such an incredible insight into the performance that it took it to that magical level. Where spirit and art connect and you FEEL the music. You feel it in your soul, its tangible with your hands and you can literally taste it.

“I was witness to one of the most moving spectacles of human expression that I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. My soul took flight for over 2 hours as I watched the poetic nature of the human form in motion; dancing, swaying, fighting, loving, understanding and confusing all at once.”

Details of “The Doorway“, “In Tandem” and “Pas D’Action” performances this weekend, (to recorded music), can be found on the RWB’s site @ http://www.rwb.org/

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Hallelujah ballet

“Spine-tingling.”

That’s how Holly Harris, dance reviewer for the Winnipeg Free Press, describes this performance of “Hallelujah“.

Corps de Ballet member Sophia Lee, fresh from a lead role as “First” in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of Mark Godden’s “Svengali“, here dances Leonard Cohen’s modern song classic. Allison Crowe sings and plays piano on-stage with Lee in the world premiere of “The Doorway“, choreographed by Jorden Morris. RWB Soloist Jo-Ann Gudilin (nee Sundermeier), “Mother” in “Svengali“, dons the blue dress to perform “Hallelujah” with Crowe on alternate dates.

(CBC News – screen-caps)

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Get with the program

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet published a lovely “Playbill” size program for its “Pure Ballet” production. Here’s the page therein containing the bio of Allison Crowe, and, the person who made the music that made the dance, “The Doorway” – Leonard Cohen!

click on the image to read full-size

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Chocolodka at the Dance

Today is the final performance of the debut run of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen” and the season finale for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Following this Mother’s Day performance of “Pure Ballet” we salute music, dance, motherhood, you and me, a dog named Boo, and all else, with this special elixir – Chocolodka. Na zdrowie! Sláinte!

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CHOCOLODKA

And, for the instructional inspirational:

How To Make The Original Chocolodka – The Video

NB pictured in this post is Chocolodka: Travellers Edition – the creation of which, in an hotel room, requires some variance from the traditional methodology – though the ingredients remain true to the original recipe, and, according to all involved, optimal standards for Chocolodka have been maintained. Furthermore, no one was harmed in the making of this product. In fact, quite the contrary :)

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Giving credit – where credit is due

Here’s a page from the program for “Pure Ballet” – noting the credits for “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“. Since Allison Crowe is performing onstage – well, she’s not in position to take photos! So, we’ll look for other artifacts, such as this one, to bring us all to the dance…

Credits – click on image

I’m just back from trekking half-way ‘cross Canada and back, to be present for the public debut of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“. This new dance piece is exciting and inspiring, and part of a brilliant mixed program, “Pure Ballet” presented by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

After unpacking, and sitting back down at my home computer, I came upon a sour review of the art and entertainment in a newspaper item. As it did not reflect the experience shared by thousands of people this week in Winnipeg, it, and some friendly encouragement by a fellow LeonardCohenFiles.com forum member, I’ve put my hand to at least trying to offer a glimpse into what it’s like… amazing, wonderful, magic… read on, if it be your will :)

Exciting Ballet News

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Tonight is RWB’s World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen”

CBC Arts Correspondent and SCENE Producer Andrea Ratuski attended dress rehearsal, and files this report on the RWB’s “Pure Ballet” and the World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“.

Leonard Cohen’s music comes to life at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet

As you’d imagine with the words and music of Leonard Cohen, there’s great range and variety in the program – so, consider this as being treated to a flake…

And, heading into soundcheck at Manitoba’s 2305-seat Centennial Concert Hall – here’s the view from the sound-board.

Tonight is the opening of “Pure Ballet” – and the World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“. This ballet, choreographed by Jorden Morris, invites us to explore the words and music of Leonard Cohen. Allison Crowe performs “Hallelujah” in this piece, and the song is danced by Sophia Lee in performances on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Jo-Ann Gudilin (nee Sundermeier) dances the role on Thursday and Saturday.

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A Day Off In the ‘Peg

Sunday.

All is quiet and still inside the Founder’s Studio of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Allison Crowe is off – enjoying the pleasures of this city at the heart of Canada. Tomorrow – dancers and musicians resume rehearsals leading up to this week’s World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen“.

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“Doorway” Opening Soon: Ballet to Leonard Cohen Words & Music

The World Premiere of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen” nears, and there’s now fuller word from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet on the spoken word and musical components to this contemporary dance.

The ballet will include selections of Leonard Cohen interviews as spoken word recordings, along with: “The Letters” sung by Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes from the CD “Dear Heather“; “Bird on a Wire” performed live by the Winnipeg-based duo of Keith and Renee; “Hallelujah” performed live by bi-coastal Canadian Allison Crowe; “Since You Asked“, poem recited by Leonard Cohen from the CD “Born to the Breed” A Tribute to Judy Collins; and “Sisters of Mercy” recorded live by US singer-songwriter Cris Williamson on the CD “Circle of Friends“.

And, from the RWB, here’s some details on the dance and its inspiration :

The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen

Beautifully set to the music of Canadian songwriting legend Leonard Cohen, Jorden Morris’s new ballet The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen explores the complexities of relationships across the threshold to love and longing. Initially started as a sketch, Morris expanded the piece into five separate dance vignettes that each tell their own story.

Morris previously choreographed to Cohen’s music in a piece he created for the 31st Annual Genie Awards, titled Dance Me to the End of Love, which was performed by RWB Corps de Ballet member Sophia Lee and former Principal Dancer Jaime Vargas. Morris explains he titled his latest piece The Doorway after a quote of Cohen’s with which he personally identified.

“Cohen says that in his own curious, magical universe (his creative process) is a kind of a doorway. He explains that he can’t really speak too much about it because he can’t quite put his finger on it, except to say that it is a doorway. He has to open it carefully otherwise what is beyond that isn’t accessible to him and it’s something he takes very seriously,” said Morris. “It’s the same for me as when I choreograph.”

Canadian songstress Allison Crowe will perform Cohen’s Hallelujah live during the show, while local Winnipeg duo Keith & Renée will sing Bird on a Wire.

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Allison Crowe Alights with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet – World Premiere of “The Doorway” – May 9 – 13, 2012

Musician Allison Crowe is thrilled to perform with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet for the World Premiere of “The Doorway” – a contemporary ballet from choreographer Jorden Morris opening the words and music of legendary poet, singer-songwriter, and survivor Leonard Cohen.

“Graceful, moving, achingly honest, the series of dance vignettes are set to Cohen’s songs and poems, exploring the emotional journey across the threshold to love and longing,” says the RWB of this new piece from Morris, creator of the tremendously successful and celebrated “Peter Pan” (2006 premiere) and “Moulin Rouge – The Ballet” (2009 premiere) for the company. For the live national broadcast of the 2011 Genie Awards, Morris created a sensuous pas de deux – embracing Cohen’s song “Dance Me to the End of Love” – performed by Corps de Ballet member Sophia Lee and former RWB Principal Dancer, and current Ballet Master, Jaime Vargas with music from Montréal rock band Karkwa.

Pure Ballet - Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet

“Working with the RWB is going to be such an awesome experience – even to just watch these amazing people dance is gift enough,” Allison Crowe says. “I am humbled to be able to be a part of such a beautiful project, in tribute to such a wonderfully talented and brilliant man, Leonard Cohen.”

Growing up in Westmount, on the Island of Montreal, Cohen entered the fringes of a life in music as a Buckskin Boy. Though “born with the gift of a golden voice”, and building a sterling reputation as a writer – author, poet and songsmith – in the ‘60s , ’70s and on, he’s endured stranger times to test his mettle. This century has witnessed a renaissance in appreciation of his work and Leonard Cohen reach his most cherished state as an artist. Emblematic of this status, in May 2012, as the RWB presents this new creation based on his art, Leonard Cohen will be feted for a lifetime of achievement in music and poetry – receiving the Glenn Gould Prize at Toronto’s Massey Hall.One of the world’s top concert draws, Cohen’s newest album, “Old Ideas”, charted #1 in countries ’round the globe.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, based in the culturally-vibrant city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is Canada’s oldest, and North America’s longest continually operating, ballet company. Founded in 1939, it’s the first ballet company in the world to be granted the Royal title – bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. And, it’s the first organization anywhere to present a theatrical or dance production of Leonard Cohen’s work. During the RWB tenure of Artistic Director Arnold Spohr (1958 – 1988), in Summer 1970, Brian Macdonald choreographed “The Shining People of Leonard Cohen” which debuted in Paris. Later, that July, it’s staged at Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa – with eclectic band Lighthouse, and a pair of bats from the belfry, opening the show.

Today, André Lewis, named RWB Artistic Director in 1996, (he began his association as a dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 1975), oversees the launch of this newest creation, “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen”. Jeff Herd, native Winnipegger, after a decade as company manager for Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio, in Las Vegas, and some years overseas, is back home helping further the RWB’s legacy in motion as Executive Director. Bob Stewart serves as Production Director. Tad Biernacki, is RWB Music Director and Conductor and, in this circumstance, kindly, match-maker. With costume design by Anne Armit and lighting design from Hugh Conacher, Jorden Morris’ piece is partnered with RWB alumnus Peter Quanz’s “Luminous”, and audience favourite Mauricio Wainrot’s “Carmina Burana” for an evening, (and one Sunday matinee), of classical and contemporary ballet that runs May 9 – 13, 2012 at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall. It’s a mixed program united as “Pure Ballet”.

A pure talent and communicator in song, Allison Crowe, is invited to perform her piano and vocal version of “Hallelujah”, a modern classic. First recorded by Crowe in 2003 for her CD “Tidings”, this Leonard Cohen song has been covered more than 200 times – in a wide range of styles. Iconoclastically, free of mainstream ties and marketing, Crowe’s version has steadily emerged among the most-enjoyed worldwide. A YouTube video of Allison Crowe performing “Hallelujah” live-in-the-studio has an audience of more than eight million people. Acclaimed Hollywood director Zack Snyder tags it “beautiful”, “sexy” and “romantic”. The bi-coastal singer-songwriter, born in Nanaimo, BC, and now home in Corner Brook, NL, is honoured to deliver her passion for the song live to the RWB’s lovers of “visible music”.

YouTube Preview Image

Crowe enters fine musical company with those whose performances will also illuminate “The Doorway”. Whether criss-crossing the country to visit hundreds of schools and inspire children, or expressing their humanitarian nature performing in Kenya and Dubai, dynamic Winnipeg duo “Keith and Reneé” (http://www.keithandrenee.com/) shine. The veteran pair make music of many genres, folk and country among them, that reach people via radio, tv, film and commercials. They penned “Good Year”, theme of Manitoba’s Homecoming 2010 and, fresh off a dream tour with entertainer Jann Arden, “KnR” bring to the Centennial’s live stage their heartland take on “Bird on a Wire”.

Alongside these performers, and recorded words and music of Leonard Cohen, the program includes an incandescent “Sisters of Mercy” as captured live on “Circle of Friends”, a 1991 album by South Dakota-born, US prairie-raised musician, activist and pioneer Cris Williamson (http://criswilliamson.com/). This was the 15th anniversary concert recording of Willamson’s “The Changer and the Changed”, an epochal album which went gold, (sales over 500,000), and is to indie and women’s music what Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was to general pop in its day.

Info on “Pure Ballet: Fluid Motion Virtuosic Dance”, location, ticket details and more is found @ http://www.rwb.org/pureballet

Allison Crowe follows up this exciting RWB engagement with a rare off-stage role – serving as Music Director for “Newfoundland Vinyl” – a rollicking spin through popular music’s coming of age on “the rock” – presented in this Summer’s Gros Morne Theatre Festival by Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador. A “Tidings Live” album and video documentary is in the works with film-maker Peter Buckle. These North American activities precede Allison Crowe’s next European tour – featuring a concert return to Germany, Italy, England, Scotland+

Fuller details will be posted @ http://www.allisoncrowe.com

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